posted on Jun, 11 2015 @ 03:20 PM
I am still a 1st Responder in Life Support and Emergency Management, but recently went to work with senior citizens in my city of Dearborn Michigan as
a Program Specialist. Here, I met a man from Lebanon named Samhi. I meet with him 2-3 times a week, and his story inspired me to start this thread. It
is all about what we take for granted.
Samhi has had a stroke and is paralyzed on one side of his entire body, and he speaks in really broken-limited English, so for that reason, I will
reply that way on his behalf here in this thread. He lives in a nice little well kept house in Dearborn’s east side. I initially asked him how many
people did he live with. He replied “Just me. I live by myself”. Asking him further where he was from originally, he replied Beirut. I inquired
about family members and he replied “Seven. Seven kids, and my wife”. Asking where are they now, Samhi replied “Lebanon”.
We continued small talk and I asked him when they were coming back here. “Never”, he said. “Never, come”. I was surprised as that’s not so
unusual here in Dearborn. Visas, tourists, green cards etc…all normal for residents and their families coming back and forth from Iraq, Iran, Syria,
Lebanon, Yeman and every other Middle Eastern country one can think of. Dearborn has as many Mosques as party stores. “What about your wife?” I
asked. “Wife no come too.” “Well Samhi, when did you visit home last?” I asked him further. “Samhi looked out the window and replied “17
years. I no go home 17 years. No one in family come here either for 17 years”. This took me by surprise. The explanations surprised me even
“I come to this country 17 years ago and family no want to come America. I happy American, they no-want. So, I live by myself”. “Havent you
visited them a couple of years or so Sam?” “No. I no go there…they no come here” he responded still looking out the window. “I no go to my
city-home for 17 years. Hezbollah and terrorists. My city is no more like before”. I asked him about his wife living here and going back and forth
to be with the kids now grown”. What he said stunned me. “Wife never been here. No come to America”. “She’s never been here?” I asked.
“No. I buy house for them, wife and kids no come. They say “You American now. You STAY there!” I didn’t know what or how to respond. “I work
restaurant everyday 17 years. No sick, no miss one day. I save all money and wait. They no come. I no go there, they no come here.” At this point, I
got the gist of what he meant.
His wife and children thought it was wrong for him to come to America, the “land of the Great Satan”. Not everyone thinks this is the place to
come to for freedom and liberty. In fact, Samhi‘s family thinks he sold out to leave Lebanon and come here. I guess its true not every member of
every foreign born family thinks leaving their wartorn countries is the thing to do. And such is Sam’s case. Even after his stroke paralyzed him to
the point of shuffling and walking slowly with a cane, they didn’t come to him. “Samhi? Did they know you were sick? That you had a stroke?”
“They know. They no-care. No come. 17 years by myself. At 76 years old, I proud to be American. I American citizen now. Good for me!” His story
really took me aback for a couple of days in fact. And the more I speak with him about it, the more respect I have and the better friends I’d like
to think of he and I becoming.
We take for granted the freedoms we have in the parts of the civilized worlds we live in. Day to day, I think most of us forget the sacrifices our
parents, grandparents and great-grandparents made to bring their families to where they can live free in a land without war on the home front. A place
where we can shop pretty much where and when we want, travel where we want, raise our children as we want, live in relative peace that to them cant be
found in their own countries of origin. Just like Samhi. He came, he sought a better place, a free place as compared to where he came from…a place
where his children wouldn’t be afraid to walk the streets. And they turned on their father and husband for seeking that better world.
Samhi gave all for them, and in turn, they took it all back from him, leaving him alone, even after learning he was partially paralyzed with the
stroke. I would think for one they’d come to help him, or it would’ve made him sell the house, pack a bag and go home to Beruit. “No!” Samhi
told me. “Never. NEVER! I American now. I stay America!” And in that one statement of affirmation Samhi made to me, I understood what sacrifice
was, and what a lot of our ancestors went through coming to a place where the language was different, the culture was different, the religions and
politic varied, and the freedoms were wide.One could think harshly of him ignoring his family back home, or one could see how badly it was
they…including his wife…of being the ones treating someone they professed to love…moreso that way than he was interpreted to have done to
Hatred and prejudice, just as love and longing, have their parallels. But for a father and husband to sacrifice all for family, their future and the
safety in freedom he tried so hard to obtain…which he did…and then be rejected as a form of “traitor” by wife and kids…in my mind and I hope
So Samhi lives and limps alone, living out his days on his porch in America watching his flowers of red, pink and purple grow. “Take some flowers to
your wife” he told me yesterday. I was amazed. His heart, though Im sure broken…still had a space for love…He sacrificed all, and lost all too.
But he never forgot the important thing in sacrifice: Love…no matter the cost.